Photos by Olivia Kenny
Primal Scream stunned many when they announced the latest incarnation of Screamadelica Live, a series of live dates that sees the Scottish band playing the seminal album in full and saw them close out the Sounds of the City event at Castlefield Bowl.
Formed in Glasgow in 1982 the band began as a response to the fading punk and burgeoning new wave movements and drew from them initially as well as the fuzzy sound of fellow Scots The Jesus and Mary Chain. But after two albums of guitar based indie music, Primal Scream were introduced to Acid House by Creation Records founder Alan Mcgee, before DJ Andrew Weatherall’s remix of “I’m Losing More Than I’ll Ever Have” convinced the band to draft him in as producer. The resulting album drew as much from psychedelic guitar music as it did electronic dance beats and rave culture. Thirty years later and Screamadelica is as thrilling as ever if not more so.
Before that however, main support comes from Liverpool’s The Mysterines, a band who despite forming in 2016 have shot to prominence in the last 12 months and with good reason. The release of their debut LP Reeling in March entered into the UK Top Ten Album Chart and they have gone from strength to strength, more than earning their place here today. They are pure power from the first note to the last, with tracks such as ‘Hung Up’ seeing a lot of the crowd shouting back at them. Singer Lia Metcalfe’s voice is so powerful it sends tingles down your spine, and when accompanied by exciting guitar interplay and a driving rhythm section the effect is intoxicating.
And now on to the main event, opening with ‘I Belong to Glasgow’ they waste no time in moving into arguably their anthem ‘Movin’ On Up’. The effect on the crowd is instantaneous and if you can see one person in the sold-out amphitheatre without their hands in the air you deserve a medal. It’s moments like these that make you realise how much was lost in the pandemic, and how grateful as a collective humanity is to have it back (despite the ever-rising numbers we are all aware of). Next, they do their cover of 13th Floor Elevators track ‘Slip Inside This House’ before ‘Don’t Fight It, Feel It’. To keep it interesting they divert from doing an album playback, instead reverting to ‘Come Together’ which again sees the crowd go wild. Looking at the people here today is a testament in itself to the legendary status of the musicians on this stage, fans of all ages united signing along unashamedly to the tracks.
‘Inner Flight’ is their haunting, ethereal instrumental which could easily be lost in such a setting, yet somehow its all the more poignant. ‘Screamadelica’ itself never appeared on the album of the same name but earns a place here today and sees the crowd grooving along merrily. ‘I’m Comin’ Down’ and ‘Damaged’ have their order inverted and allow a moment of reflection before ‘Higher Than the Sun’ and ‘Shine Like Stars’ complete the set and set spines tingling. They leave the stage to rapturous applause, but we all know they will be back soon and so parting is not such sweet sorrow, just yet.
Back in no time, that ever so familiar sample rings out and ‘Loaded’ begins. It’s probably, at this point, the one everyone has been waiting for and if anyone had managed to refrain from dancing, it was laid to bed once and for all with this track. Swiftly followed by the formidable ‘Swastika Eyes’ and ‘Jailbird’ there is no doubt everyone is enjoying themselves. For their final two tracks they welcome a special guest, Bobby tells us ‘he’s a son of your city’, none other than Mani. He joins the ensemble for ‘Country Girl’ and of course, ‘Rocks’, which is the final track.
As the crowd leave the arena, there is a feeling of accomplishment in the air, a sense of collective defiance for all that everyone has been through, a two fingers to COVID-19 and a big hug to live music, with a cap doffed to Primal Scream who could not have been any better.